Google's Instant Previews: A sneak peek of search results and a closer look at those ads, too

Google is rolling out a new tool called Instant Previews, which offers a peek at Web pages and keeps you around long enough to check out some ads, too.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

One of the things to remember about Google is that, as a search engine, you don't really hang around much after you've conducted your search. Sure, you probably click the browser's back button plenty of times, heading back to the results page when that first click didn't give you quite what you were looking for. But for the most part, when you find a link worth clicking, you're pretty much done with your Google experience - and finished seeing all of those wonderful Google ads, too.

Google today is rolling out a new tool, called Instant Previews, that not only gives users a visual peek of the Web page that goes with the link in the results but also keeps you from clicking away from a Google page so quickly.

Screenshots: Trying out Instant Previews

Of course, today's news is supposed to be all about you and the time you can save by previewing Web pages before heading over for a closer look. But I couldn't help but smile when I realized that Google had come up with a way of getting me to spend more time on that results page - you know, the page with all of the ads they sell.

And conveniently enough, the preview pop-ups appear to the right, which means your eyeballs also shift to the right, the same place where those ads appear. (You'll notice that there's no preview button for the ads. They need you to actually click on those for the advertising dollars to flow.)

Still, that's not what Google is talking about today. The message today is: better and faster results through Google search. Here's what Google had to say in its official blog post:

In our testing, we’ve found that people who use Instant Previews are about 5% more likely to be satisfied with the results they click. The previews provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you’re looking for on the pages you visit...

We realized early on that this kind of experience would only make sense if it was lightning fast. Not long ago simply downloading an image could take 20 or 30 seconds, and even today many websites take four or five seconds to load. With Instant Previews, we match your query with an index of the entire web, identify the relevant parts of each webpage, stitch them together and serve the resulting preview completely customized to your search—usually in under one-tenth of a second. Once you click the magnifying glass, we load previews for the other results in the background so you can flip through them without waiting.

Editorial standards